In a case that we reported on last year, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a federal district court’s decision to dismiss a case involving an illuminated peace sign high above the sidewalks of New York City.  Bridget Vosse desired to display a lighted peace sign from her condominium in the Ansonia Building, but New York City prohibits lighted displays more than 40 feet above sidewalk level.  The Second Circuit previously held that New York City’s ban on lighted sign displays more than 40 feet above street level was content neutral.  On remand, the district court found that the regulation served a significant governmental interest in aesthetics, that the regulation was narrowly tailored to that interest, and that the regulation provided ample alternative channels for communication of the information.  The Second Circuit’s opinion affirmed for the same reasons contained in the district court decision.  Despite the plaintiff’s objection that the ban on illuminated signs was not narrowly tailored due to several exceptions, the Second Circuit found that New York City passed the narrow tailoring test because the city was only required to focus on its most pressing concern, not solve all problems at the same time.  With respect to ample alternative channels, the court found that the plaintiff’s reliance on the Supreme Court case of City of Ladue v. Gilleo was misplaced, since Ladue involved a complete ban on all residential signs, while the New York City ban applied only to lighted signs placed at a certain height.

Vosse v. City of New York, ___ Fed. App’x. ___, 2016 WL 6037372 (2d Cir. Oct. 14, 2016).

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Photo of Brian J. Connolly Brian J. Connolly

Brian Connolly represents public- and private-sector clients in matters relating to zoning, planning, development entitlements and other complex regulatory issues.  Brian’s practice encompasses a broad range of land use matters including zoning compliance, rezonings and other regulatory amendments, planned-unit developments, development agreements, private covenants and restrictions, land use and zoning litigation, initiatives and referenda associated with land use approvals, and real estate transactions.  Brian additionally specializes in the First Amendment and land use issues associated with outdoor sign and advertising regulation, and fair housing matters in local planning and zoning.